Wheel of History
On a work day afternoon, 2/23/07, Barak Obama
spoke in Austin to gathering of 20,000 plus
people. Friend Carolyn and I walked along
Riverside drive, closed to traffic, to the beat
of "For the Funk of It."
We found our way into the thick
of the crowd, wrangling a view of the stage.
I'd heard Obama at the Dem convention
in 2002, and have watched him with interest —
watched the film of his visit to Kenya,
grew up outside Chicago, know the rough
Midwestern chill of Springfield where
Lincoln said, "A nation divided cannot stand."
I was curious to see Obama in person,
like many, want him to vote for cutting funds for
the war now, but am encouraged that
his bill for re-deployment stipulates
no permanent military bases in Iraq.
Today, in an almost conversational tone, Obama
gave a speech I will in the future think of
as his Wheel of History speech.
He talked about American history —
the revolution, the civil war, suffrage,
the labor movement, civil rights.
He talked about New Orleans, said
we are at a turning point in history.
He'd said the roots of terrorism were in Darfour, in injustice.
"If all of you are willing to put your shoulder to the wheel
of history at this moment, then amazing things can happen."
Obama has a way of talking to thousands of people
as if he were talking to a small group, backs off
rhetorical crescendo, is more intent on connecting
past to present to future, less eager to lead cheers
than tell a story about civil rights.
I couldn't help realizing how completely vulnerable
he was, on a raised platform, surrounded
by thousands of people, no security at the gate
of a free event, we signed our names to get in,
or showed email invitations.
He quoted MLK --
"The arc of the moral universe is long,
but it bends toward justice."
He talked about the Wheel of History,
and the building of a movement.
Give it a listen. Part two and three are the best.
*Photo from the Obama website. You can watch the video here too.
©Susan Bright, 2007
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
Re. yesterday's post about the coal plants Rick Perry has
proposed to fast track in Texas, check out Ric Sternberg's
You-Tube video produced for the SEED Coalition.
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Labels: political philosophy